Wednesday, June 23, 2010; 12:41 PM
By Sally Quinn My father, a lieutenant general in command of the 7th Army in Germany at the beginning of the Vietnam War, had had dealings with President Johnson. To say that he loathed him was an understatement, as it was for many in the military. But the president was his commander in chief, and he believed the office should be honored. That was something we were raised with, something we all understood, and, though we may not have agreed with my father, it was something we accepted as being part of the military. Never was that belief more reinforced than the night before my sister Donna???s wedding in 1964, when my father asked everyone to stand and toast the president of the United States. With that context, I was stunned this week by the portrayal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone. Not only did he reportedly give aides the impression that he was disappointed in his first Oval Office meeting with the president and considered Obama unprepared, he also dismissed Vice President Joe Biden with ???who???s that???? A fireable offense? Without question. What I don???t understand is: What???s the wait? President Obama should have fired him on the phone the moment he first heard about this. He should not be allowed to resign. He should be fired outright. It is insubordination of the worst kind. Obama called it ???poor judgment.??? We already knew McChrystal had that capacity. He showed extremely poor judgment during a public appearance in London last year. When asked if he could support the Biden plan to send more drones to Afghanistan at a time when the general was pushing for more troops, he replied ???no??? and said it would lead to ???Chaos-istan.??? President Obama chewed McChrystal out on Air Force One. He should have fired him on the spot. Once the general realized he could be insubordinate and get away with it, he clearly thought he was indispensable. Nobody is indispensable. Even this ???warrior god???, as he is known among his admirers. He was an accident waiting to happen. Now McChrystal has extended his ???sincerest apology for this profile.??? He went on to say: ???It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and it should have never happened. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.??? This is a craven and unacceptable apology. McChrystal doesn???t deny or apologize or explain what he actually said. He???s simply sorry he got caught, and he???s apologizing for that bad judgment. Here is a man who talks about ???honor.??? He has dishonored the presidency and his own profession. There are those who suggest it would be better to leave him in the job so as not to compromise the ???mission.??? The mission has already been compromised. McChrystal has broken the most sacred rule in the military. Without the respect and the obedience and duty of command, you will indeed have ???Chaos-istan.??? The example McChrystal has given to his subordinates all over the world, be they generals or privates, is that it???s okay to disrespect your commanders. That and that alone is enough to fire him. Some people have suggested that a firing would hurt troop morale. Rather, that morale would be destroyed if the troops understood that the person who commanded them did not believe in his mission or that of the United States. Whether you agree or disagree with the war, the strategy or the administration is not the point. The point is that if you are in the military and cannot respect your commanders and follow their orders, you don???t belong there. Clearly the general, by those standards, does not measure up. The question is: Will President Obama? If he does not fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal, he will be showing very poor judgment.